Dublin Bottling Works draws crowds despite losses
Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 20:02
When Dublin, Texas was founded many people expected it to become a booming Texas city.
“There were people who slated it to become the size of Ft. Worth,” Kenny Horton, current manager of the Dublin Bottling Works, said. “We didn’t make it.”
While it did not becoming the city many had hoped for, Dublin made a name for itself with its signature Dr. Pepper formula.
For more than 120 years, Dublin Bottling Works has made its own version of the soda, using pure cane sugar instead of artificial sweeteners.
Dr. Pepper made its debut in Waco, Texas in 1885, and Dublin Dr. Pepper Bottling Works began producing the drink in 1891 as the first independently-owned bottler.
As the soft drink industry moved towards high-fructose corn syrup in the 1980’s to avoid paying more for sugar, Dublin Dr. Pepper Bottling Works refused to trade quality over quantity.
While the company refused to change its recipe, it was still allowed to use the Dr. Pepper name, as long as it didn’t sell outside of a 44 mile radius per an agreement with Dr. Pepper.
While this radius may seem small, the plant has remained popular, drawing over 80,000 visitors a year.
The relationship between Dr. Pepper and Dublin Bottling Works was friendly, until June 2011 when the Dr. Pepper-Snapple Group found Dublin was violating the terms of their agreement, of trademark dilution and selling outside their 44-mile radius.
Dr. Pepper-Snapple Group sued Dublin Bottling Works and won.
Among their demands, they wanted the company to stop selling outside the 44-mile radius and to remove the “Dr. Pepper” from its name.
On Jan. 12, 2012, the production of Dublin Dr. Pepper came to a halt. From that point on, the company changed its name simply to Dublin Bottling Works.
“It was a really tough time. Many people in town, they would walk by and see me and get this sad look on their face like they felt sad for me or what was happening,” Horton said.
Instead of folding, the company decided to rebrand itself and launch a new line of sodas made with the same pure cane sugar.
Though the old soda factory has reached a near museum state, there is still a fully-functioning soda fountain next door.
This soda fountain is what attracts visitors from all over the world who have come in search of Dr. Pepper.
While they may not find Dr. Pepper, visitors still have plenty of choices such as vintage Cola, Cream Soda, Cherry Limeade and Grape.
John Brooks, who lives near Dublin, said he was unaware of the changes to the company and even the new soda. Although unaware, he was more than willing to try.
“Now that’s good, I like that,” Brooks said while trying the Dublin Cherry Limeade.
Although Dr. Pepper isn’t the main attraction anymore, people are still flocking to the area to see what goes inside the bottle and to see the magic of Dublin Bottling Works.
And while the company may have seen better days, it still holds a special place in Horton’s heart.
“I actually met my wife here at the plant,” Horton said.
“She was visiting one summer and needed a job. She didn’t leave. I guess you could say that Dublin Bottling Works found me my wife.”